That might be a big mistake for their team according to NFL analyst Andy Benoit. As he said in a recent video clip, Slay has plenty of traits which make him an elite player that makes any secondary better. Benoit showed just what he means by highlighting Slay’s coverage of Tavon Austin in a game from earlier this season.
“Often times, when you get a receiver in these tighter splits where he’s closer to the ball, cornerbacks tend to back off and play outside. Slay did not do that here because he understands it’s only Austin over here,” he says in the clip. “It’s only one receiving threat, Austin is not going to be running through bunches or picks or rubs, so I can get right up on my guy and I’m going to make him get off my coverage. Watch Slay, he runs with Austin, one of the faster guys in the NFL, that’s impressive.”
While the play itself might not have been flashy or big, it was the kind of key move that allows a defense to have success on the back end, and that wasn’t something which was lost on Benoit.
“It’s the nuance and attention to detail Slay has. He plays the low hip of the receiver which is how they teach man coverage in Detroit, Slay does it the best,” he said. “He can play man to man on the low hip and that allows the free safety to impact against Austin just enough. So he’s playing masterfully to the free safety help. It’s the subtle traits of cornerbacking like this, he can guard any receiver down field, he can guard underneath, too.”
In Benoit’s opinion, as a result of such plays and solid work, the Lions would be making a huge mistake if they dealt Slay or eventually let him walk without a contract extension.
“The Lions have to make a decision whether to pay big money to keep Darius Slay. It would be in their best interest to if it’s at all financially possible because he’s an elite cover corner,” Benoit said.
Plenty of Detroit fans likely don’t have to be convinced of that fact, but this is a good reminder of why nonetheless.
Lions Price Revealed Within Darius Slay Trade
If a deal doesn’t happen, price could be a reason. Obviously, the Lions are said to be firm, and that price could be expected to be a second or third round pick according to Ryan O’Halloran, and then a costly extension, in the neighborhood of $15 million dollars. That was the team’s reported price for the Denver Broncos according to a league executive.
That’s an expensive cost, and one the Lions aren’t backing down off of reportedly when it comes to talks. Detroit doesn’t have to deal Slay, of course, which means they can afford to be coy and hang back on their top cornerback and see if anyone is willing to meet the price.
If someone does, the Lions might decide to move on from Slay when all is said and done.
Dangers Lions Have Within Darius Slay Trade
The decision to potentially deal Slay, though, isn’t one that the team can afford to take lightly. As this video shows, subtracting Slay from the mix would seemingly hamper the Lions’ chances to have an elite season in 2020 given the cornerback’s importance to the team as a whole. If Slay does go, decisions will have to be made.
Analyst Chris Burke of The Athletic explained after new Slay rumors surfaced that the Lions have a big decision to make in terms of whether to deal the top corner. If they do, the team will have to answer the question of “what’s next,” and there are few easy answers to that query. In fact, as Burke says, the move could help the Lions open another gaping hole on their roster prior to the 2020 offseason.
If the Lions do decide on a Slay trade, it’s likely the team will have to make some sort of a signing in free agency, either a Chris Harris, Byron Jones or some other large name. They might also have to look strongly in Jeffrey Okudah’s direction during the NFL Draft. A combination of these moves could help the situation.
Slay, however, offers the team some security in terms of everyone knowing what to expect from the player at his position. Heading into a bumpy offseason, that fact should offer some comfort to the team and their staff.
If Slay gets traded, the Lions will have a major challenge as it relates to how to react. It might not be that easy replacing a guy who can dominate on the back end like this.
READ NEXT: Lions Best Free Agency Target Revealed